Another award for Rashmi Bharti and Rajnish Jain – article by Chinmaya.
The past two years have been miraculous ones for Rashmi Bharti and Rajnish Jain of Avani, beginning with their being jointly awarded the India Awakened Award by Hindustan Times in 2012 and culminating in December 2013 with their being presented with the TN Kushoo Memorial Award for energy, conservation and development by HH the Dalai Lama.
Many of you will remember them from the Commune days of the late ‘80s or have kept up with their work for rural development in the Indian Himalayas through Chinmaya’s documentary: Avani – An Introduction.
They founded Avani in 1997 in the Indian state of Uttarakhand to bring solar lighting to remote villages. It quickly branched into an enterprise generating employment in the production of high-quality textiles. Today Avani (and it’s brand Earthcraft) is a green brand that works with Kumaon women in 50 villages in the Central Himalayas to produce eco-conscious lifestyle products (hand-woven shawls, stoles, mufflers and garments in wool and wild silk, all dyed in natural colour, plus natural-dye crayons and water colors for artists) and has a UNESCO Seal of Excellence. As recogition for her work Rashmi received both the Jankidevi Bajaj Award for Rural Entrepreneurship and the Citi Foundation’s Innovative Microenterprise of the Year in 2012.
The sustainable power generation side of Avani is now opening a 120 KW power plant that runs on the gasification of pine needles. The multiple spin offs from this idea of Rajnish’s (which include regeneration of natural ecosystems, reduction of carbon emissions and employment for villagers) through the removal of pine needles from the forest floor, and its wide applicability over vast swathes of the Central Himalayas (and elsewhere) won Rajnish an ‘Amazing Indian’ award from the Times of India in 2012. It also won an online competition ‘Spark the Rise’ in 2012 against strong competition, which resulted in a substantial grant for implementation of this first plant. Rajnish is planning three more plants this coming year, each generating enough power for an entire village.
Avani’s work is a quiet celebration of nature under Osho’s inspiration of “leaving the Earth a little more beautiful than we found it.”
Related article: Avani: NGO in the Himalayas
Chinmaya Dunster was born in 1954 in England. He started playing the classical guitar at 15 and took up the Hindustani classical instrument sarod in 1984. He took sannyas in 1982. Chinmaya released short of 20 CDs on which he has been joined by musicians from the world of Osho. He is also involved with environmental / social justice issues and creates awareness-raising films on these issues. He now lives in New Zealand with Naveena and daughter Koyal. www.chinmaya-dunster.com